Iraq through the eyes of a young writer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2005

On Thursday night, Steve Ishak gave an auditorium of Young Writers parents and friends a look at the war in Iraq through the eyes of someone who was there before the U.S. troops.

&uot;I didn’t want to see my country burning,&uot; the King’s Fork High junior told the crowd at King’s Fork Middle, reading from his nonfiction work, &uot;Journals of an Iraqi Kid.&uot;

&uot;I didn’t want to see children killed. But I was sure that we needed the war to get rid of Saddam Hussein. I am so thankful for the American soldiers who came over here to help us.


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&uot;My dream had come true; they came here and we are free,&uot; he said of seeing American soldiers line the streets of Iraq. &uot;That’s what I thought when I saw them in out streets. I said to my dad, ‘Are we free finally, or is this just a dream?’&uot;

Ishak’s work nabbed him first place among 11th grade nonfiction writers – and the judges weren’t the only ones who liked his work; Ishak got a standing ovation from the crowd.

&uot;I wanted to make many people know what we went through and what we saw,&uot; he said. &uot;A lot of American soldiers fought and died to make us a free people.&uot;

Over 80 writers from kindergarten to 12th grade received awards for their work in fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies and poetry.

&uot;All year long, we encourage writing,&uot; said chairman Frances Robb. &uot;This is a culminating activity.&uot;

A quarter-century veteran of singing, dancing, writing and storytelling, Kim Norman opened the presentation.

&uot;This is absolutely as important as handing out awards to athletes,&uot; said Norman, who works in graphic design at the &uot;Smithfield Times&uot; weekly paper. &uot;I just think this is wonderful. They need to realize that everybody has a story to tell, and that one story is just as important as another.&uot;

There were plenty of stories to be found around the program; Kilby Shores student Ethan Wright was named the city’s top third-grade fiction writer for his novella, &uot;Lightning and Flippy,&uot; a tale of a dog and a dolphin.

&uot;I have a Yorkie (like Lightning), and I’d love to have a dolphin,&uot; Ethan said. &uot;It’s about eight pages, and I wrote it in three days. I want to write when I grow up, so I can be famous.&uot;

Driver Elementary student Dawn Wright found that writing about oneself isn’t as easy as we might think.

&uot;It was really hard to decide how to start off,&uot; said the third-grader. &uot;It was hard to think about what I wanted to say and then write it.&uot;

Eventually, she got rolling. She wrote about learning to walk and talk. She wrote about her first trip to Water Country, U.S.A. She wrote about her little brother (&uot;the most annoying person I’ve ever met. Where’s the receipt?&uot;). She wrote about her first culinary experience (&uot;I made tuna casserole, and it smelled divine, if I do say so myself&uot;).

It worked; her self-story was named the finest.

&uot;This was what I’d dreamed of since kindergarten,&uot; she said. &uot;This was just to show my parents that I could be a writer.&uot;